Friday, January 12, 2007

Becks: The Vegas Years

"Laydeez and from the LA Galaxy stadium, it's Daaaaavid Beckham!!"

The screaming of the fans hadn't decreased any over the years, but it annoyed him now. Pulling the string tight on shorts so as compress a little the gut that had developed on his once lithe torso, he snorted his derision.

"We love you David!"

"Who do ya love, baby; this ole heap of washed up star, or that picture on your wall from ten years ago?" he murmured to himself, as an assistant yanked a corset secure and another pretty young thing dappled some make-up over his sagging features.

He looked over at his half-soused wife, already on her third martini and dragging on a cigarette. She'd lost her little runt of a chihuahua in the chaos of the dressing room: "Mr. Cuddles, Mr.Cuddles, where are you?....Mr.Cuddles you little bastard! Come here or I'll tear your balls off!"

Becks shook his head. Afternoon games were the worst; at least with evening games she'd drink all day and soon pass out in the corner.

Five years he'd been doing this, city to city, trotting out the old standards.

Curling free kick just over the bar, grimace of frustration, run hands through suggestively through hair.


Sweeping crossfield pass, peer with furrowed brow, smoulder when ball lands at feet of teammate.


Another free-kick, this time arcing over the wall and into the net - still got it - run to corner flag, pump fists and smile; brace for teammates jumping exaltantly on back.


L.A.; Chicago to New York then D.C.: the big shows. He'd always get up for them. Maximise the charisma, ham it up with the Soccer Superstar persona. He watched the Zidane documentary over and again, trying to add gravitas as the looks faded.

The stadiums were packed, in general, but it was delivering the money shot for ESPN Sportscenter's highlights that paid his wages.

Free kick + goal + smouldering look in direction of camera = Play of the Day folks! Leverage the image rights another notch please!

But the provincial backwaters, God!: Columbus in Ohio, Colorado, Kansas bloody City, frickin' Salt Lake! Every time he went through the motions in Kansas bloody City, selling some "sophisticated European glamour" to midwest rubes, he thought of Fergie. Retired now, and out of sight but for the occasional quote snatched at a horse race meeting.

He thought of that pinched mouth, the purple face; the cold, cutting remarks he would undoubtedly have been privately making on his former charge's late career. The aspersions cast on his sexuality, the snorting insults about his wife. He once cared though. He owed it all to him.
Like fuck he did. He did it all for himself. He wasn't going to be controlled and caged by that monster. Look at Scholesy and Nevs, though. Legends now, just retired from playing. Nevs in the England coaching set-up.

He remembered the early days. The goal from half way at Wimbledon; in the dressing room in awe of Cantona; Barcelona in 1999; how Keane would snarl and, where once he would look to Fergie for reassurance, how over time the boss would avoid his glance, in tacit agreement with Roy. Nevs and Scholesy (and Phil and Butty and the rest) though; it made him smile to think of those first few years.

But he wasn't like them, he wasn't happy to settle. Home comforts, hah!

He believed it at the time, all the rubbish about growing the game in the U.S. He always believed what he said, that was the problem. People said it was all marketing, spin, PR, image with him. But he thought he meant it all: how he was going to get back in the England team after the 2006 World Cup, when he told Victoria that the stuff with the women wasn't his fault (look at the state of her now). That the Cruises (him and whoever the 'other half' happened to be that week) were really good friends.

And yes, that he, David Beckham, the biggest superstar in the world, would make the Americans love soccer. How could they not? As far as they were concerned, he was soccer. And now he would be among them; and it wouldn't be like Europe where it was so damn intense and full of hate and pressure and lunatics with empty lives and nothing better to do than talk about every little detail of some bloody football team and what prats footballers were.

No. It would be fun. New. Shiny and glitzy. Living in Los Angeles, at the heart of the entertainment industry, broadcasting to the nation every week: must-see TV.

Five years later and the show was rumbling on. He was still a draw alright; but like Riverdance, Les Mis, or going to Disneyworld. "Yeah, honey, L.A.'s great, took in a Beckham game last night." Just bog-standard family entertainment

Who was it this week? Houston Dynamo? On we go then.

Receives ball 25 yards out, bouncing, cracks a right foot volley, inches wide, ooooh! Run both hands through hair, give thumbs up to passer, and, nice touch this, a little wink.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha, excellent stuff

12:25 p.m.  

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